Washington, D.C. (May 28, 2014): This year’s Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project found that those in emerging nations, especially young people, are embracing the internet and mobile technology—and this includes the developing world. The research shows that 72% of people aged 18-29 in Brazil and 67% of those in Mexico, for example, access the internet or own a smartphone.
Young women, especially those who are married, are not likely to use modern methods of contraception, according to the Status Report on Adolescents and Young People in Sub-Saharan Africa published by the Population Reference Bureau and UNFPA. For example, contraceptive use remains “very low in all regions in SubSaharan Africa among 15- to 19-year-olds and 20- to 24-year-old married women.”
Among women ages 15-19, only 2% use modern contraception in Nigeria, 4% in the Democratic Republic of Congo and 6% in Mozambique. Comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS among people aged 15-24 is also low – 28% among females and 34% among males in sub-Saharan Africa, according to Population Reference Bureau’s World’s Youth 2013 Data Sheet. But use of social media may be the perfect tool to raise these numbers, and Washington, D.C. based, DKT International is well on its way.
“Young people need clear, concise information delivered in a convenient way. They likely won’t spend 10 minutes reading a brochure. But they might ‘like’ the Facebook page of a condom brand as over 15,000 people have done with DKT in Ghana,” says Christopher Purdy, President and CEO of DKT International. “Young people are more adept at, knowledgeable about and interested in communicating via digital technology and young people usually like talking about sex. Safe sex just needs to be a part of the conversation. That’s why leveraging that interest and curiosity is an essential part of our health programming.”
Recently, a blogger in Brazil turned a Caiparinha-flavored Prudence condom, one of DKT’s many unique-to-their-country flavors, into an homage to Brazilian soccer player Neymar. After just a few hours the post had 91.000 likes and 19.000 shares. And the yellow-and-green condom, in conjunction with the #ProtectTheGoal campaign, was recently named the official World Cup condom.
In Ghana, DKT’s No-Yawa program (meaning “no problem” in local vernacular), is run for young people. Its aim is to reach 4 million youth, ages 15-24, with sexual and reproductive health information within three years. And in Ethiopia, a team of university students are tasked in reaching fellow youth with information on how to avoid risky sexual behavior and proper condom use. They use creative approaches that make sense to their peers and include key health information at the same time, making sex education cool and fun, with use of TV ads, partnerships with MTV and opportunities for young people to get involved with the brand as testers.
“Increasingly, information targeting youth must be mobile. While the means of communication will continue to change, the laws of communication are immutable,” adds Purdy. “Effective communication requires that you deliver your message to your target audience in a format that is relevant to them. For youth around the world, that increasingly means internet, mobile technology and social media.”